Session 2 Week 8

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As the 91st legislative session begins to wrap up several hot topics have been decided and we have yet to see the outcomes on a few issues.

As you know by now the Governor vetoed HB 1008 which would have provided privacy and protection for every student, including those who assert as transgender, at school. It had nothing to do with “discrimination” as the opponents claimed, but everything to do with decency, common sense, honesty, and safety. I maintained my vote in favor of the bill and voted to override the veto. As I read the bill I believe it was simply an effort to be proactive in preventing issues before they arise and to stop being a reactionary legislature when it comes to important issues. The House upheld the governor’s veto on a 36 -29 vote.

The bills dealing with education funding, teachers’ salaries and the new funding formula continued through the legislature. There have been concerns with SB 131, which is the new formula, and how it will affect smaller schools, and schools that have considerable income from other revenues such as wind generation. It now appears that the current version of this bill will offer those districts that stand to lose considerably from the equalization of the wind generation revenues the option to “opt out” from the new formula altogether.  Meaning they can keep the wind generation money but will not be receiving new funding for teachers from the tax increase. A bright spot in the new formula for ag land taxpayers is the limitation of capital outlay taxes going forward. Districts will be limited to 3 percent or the cost of living, whichever is lower. Capital outlay taxes are the only levy at the local level that are not currently limited.

As we enter the last week of the session we will mainly be dealing with any new vetoes from the Governor and a variety of conference committees that will be hashing out final details from bills where the House and Senate cannot agree to the changes the other body made to the bills in question. The finishing touches to the general appropriation bill will be done and I’m hopeful that we will see a substantial boost in ongoing revenue to the local service providers who care for our disabled and elderly.